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Mike and The Mechanics at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Howar and Roachford Howar and Roachford Ken Harrison Photography
Mike & the Mechanics stopped in at Symphony Hall to celebrate 25 years of The Living Years album and the question on everyone’s lips was could the band still do it without enigmatic frontman Paul Carrack?
The former Ace, Squeeze and Bleeding Hearts singer left the Mechanics in 2004 to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Canadian singer/actor Tim Howar and soul supremo Andrew Roachford.

Well, if the opening shots were anything to go on, the Mechanics are still a well-oiled machine and can certainly put on a show.

Opening with 1995’s A Beggar on a Beach of Gold and Another Cup of Coffee from the Beach of Gold album, Howar’s powerful voice and confident stage presence grabbed the audience by the scruff of the neck and showed he didn’t care about past glories.

Get Up from 1991’s Word of Mouth saw both frontmen joining forces on what was heating up very nicely into a superb show. After a seven year break the Mechanics went back into the studio to record The Road album and Try To Save Me was given an airing followed by Seeing Is Believing from The Living Years collection then it was back to the very beginning with the first of the monster tracks Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) which got to No.6 in the US Billboard chart.

Don’t from The Living Years led us into Roachford’s first solo offering of the night, This Generation from his 1994 album Permanent Shade of Blue which went down well. Music fans are suckers for nostalgia and when Mike Rutherford is on stage they are just waiting for a dip back into the Genesis catalogue. The big man played the opening riff of the band’s 1980 hit Turn It On and the roof came off. After all, Mike and the Mechanics were only a side project, Genesis was the real day job.

When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground is one from the Greatest Hits collection and it was followed by The Mechanics 1991’s hit Everybody Gets A Second Chance. Nobody’s Perfect from 1988 took us back to the end of a decade when Roachford had his finest hour with his self-titled album and a Top 5 smash Cuddly Toy. I saw him perform the song when he supported Terence Trent D’Arby and the Londoner can still belt it out.

Genesis were always seen as serious musos but occasionally they showed they had a humorous side and the inclusion of  1991’s I Can’t Dance allowed Rutherford a chance to recreate the ‘walk’ which was greeted with a huge ovation and left the guitarist with a rye smile on his face.

Paul Carrack is at his best when he sings soul and his vocal on the heart-wrenching classic The Living Years is stunning. To take on this standard was no mean task but I have to say that Roachford stepped up to the mark with a brilliant rendition of the song. Anyone who wondered why Rutherford teamed up with the singer were left in no doubt. Stunning…

The main set ended with a rousing version of the Mechanics’ second single All I Need Is A Miracle from 1986 in which Howar finally persuaded the audience to leave their comfortable seats and join in the fun. Off went Rutherford and co to a thunderous ovation and as I have said so many times, Birmingham fans know a good thing when they see it and they weren’t going anywhere. They wanted more…

Back they came for a rousing version of the 1995 classic Over My Shoulder and the superb show ended with fans on all four tiers of the packed Symphony Hall on their feet for an audience participation performance of the rarely played gem Word Of Mouth, Howar in his element as he worked the crowd into an arm-waving frenzy.

Any band would miss a singer as good and as popular as Paul Carrack but in Howar and Roachford, Mike Rutherford has ensured that the Mechanics’ legacy is in very good hands. Both men are completely different; Howar the powerful, cocky rock star frontman, Roachford the cooler, more laid back keyboard player with a superb soul voice.

The mark of a great gig is excellent singers, brilliant musicians and superb songs and I have to say that Rutherford has surrounded himself with all three. Credit must be given to band members Anthony Drennan, Luke Juby and Gary Wallis who played their part in this excellent performance.

Fans walking away from the venue continued to debate whether Carrack was missed? Whisper it quietly… Not on this performance…

© Ian st Peters
Last modified onSaturday, 10 May 2014 16:27


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